Volume 20, Number 49 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | APRIL 19 - 26, 2008

Under Cover

Club fight
The Downtown Independent Democrats’ club election meeting Wednesday night turned into a screaming match when Pat Moore challenged Sean Sweeney for leader, two sources told UnderCover. The vote was put over until May.

Both sources said the fight boiled down to a rift between Community Board 1 and 2 factions.

One said the challenge was a move by C.B. 1 Chairperson Julie Menin to secure the club’s endorsement for when she runs for City Council next year. Moore, active on Board 1 and on World Trade Center community issues, has not been much of a player in local politics until now. This vote-counting source, who is unfriendly to Menin, said Menin packed the meeting, but it was unclear who would have won if it had come to a vote. Sweeney and Menin now have plenty of time to rally supporters to next month’s meeting.

Club members criticized the Soho-based Sweeney for being too disorganized.

The anti-Menin source said Sweeney wasn’t leaning in any direction in the Council race, but now Menin has no shot at his endorsement: “At this point she would be very low on his list -- after Idi Amin.”

Early endorsement
Speaking of Julie Menin, even though she hasn’t officially announced whether she’s running for City Council, her admirers are lining up. The Community Board 1 chairperson received what amounted to a preemptive endorsement last Thursday from Borough President Scott Stringer.

Stringer enthusiastically introduced Menin at the ribbon-cutting for Manhattan Youth’s Downtown Community Center.

“She’s somebody who suggests a great future for Downtown,” Stringer said. “She’s going to do a lot of great work for the city in the future.”

Hey Shelly
Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver can’t catch a break on congestion pricing.

While mingling with his constituents at the opening of the Downtown Community Center last week, Silver had to field questions from several Downtowners who were disappointed that he didn’t bring congestion pricing to the Assembly floor. Silver defended his choice, saying he was in favor of the plan but was outnumbered.

On the flip side, we’re hearing that people from the outer boroughs are calling Silver’s office nonstop to thank him for killing the pricing plan.

Don’t say bye, Danny
Virtually all of Daniel Libeskind’s World Trade Center master plan has been changed by other architects, but the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. is not yet ready to cut the umbilical chord on the architect. The agency’s board last week voted to extend his contract for another year.

Avi Schick, the L.M.D.C.’s chairperson, said the corporation will not have to pay Libeskind any more millions or even pennies by extending the contract. “You don’t want to be stuck wanting to change the master plan and no longer have the master planner under contract,” Schick said.

He said even if Libeskind has to do more work, it won’t cost the L.M.D.C. another dime. We’ll just have to wait and see if the starchitect goes along if it ever comes to that.

For those keeping score at home, Libeskind’s Freedom Tower was changed a few times by David Childs — though it is still going to be a symbolic 1,776 feet and have an antennae on top, the sunken memorial was moved up to street level, Libeskind’s waterfall was scrapped, his cultural buildings were bounced and his “Wedge of Light” plaza never was going to do what he said it would — shine without shadow on Sept. 11 mornings at the key times — because oh yeah, it’ll be across the street from the Millenium hotel tower that, get this, casts shadows even on Sept. 11.

Losing a year a week
At this rate, the new K-8 school on Beekman St. may never open.

A month ago, Forest City Ratner was saying the Beekman St. school would open in 2009. Two weeks ago, the developer pushed the opening to 2010. And now this week, it sounds like the school might not open until 2011.

At a private meeting in Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver’s office, Bruce Ratner reps said the school will definitely be ready in 2010, but it could be too unsafe to let kids inside or near the building until 2011.

That’s because Ratner is also building a Frank Gehry-designed 76-story apartment tower above the school, and they’ll likely still be working on it come September 2010. It doesn’t take a star pupil to figure out that school children and high-rise construction sites aren’t a good mix.

Hardhats, anyone?

Seaport Report
UnderCover this week welcomes a bold new partner, Janel Bladow and her Seaport Report -- with juicy tidbits about the Seaport nabe and its nearby blocks. Bladow, a freelance writer, Downtown Express contributor and longtime Seaport resident, will be writing her monthly column the third Friday of every month, so don’t forget to check her out in the May 16 issue. This week hard copy readers can find the Seaport Report on page 14. Email our good friend Janel at seaportreport@downtownexpress.com.





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